Village People: Roberto Sepúlveda, Community Inclusionist

Thursday, October 25, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 3 p.m. 

Featured image: Roberto Sepúlveda, community inclusionist. | Roberto Sepúlveda

Roberto Sepúlveda, a Melrose Park native, works in corporate diversity and inclusion. On Oct. 11, he spoke to the Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club about what his job — and his life’s mission as what he calls a community inclusionist — entails. 

I do diversity inclusion training in places like Kentucky and Tennessee and Texas. One of the places I went to, I had a guy come up to me in the beginning of the training and say, ‘These are my values, you’re not going to change them.’

This was a [meat processing] facility for one of the corporations I used to work with, so somebody coming in with overalls and maybe tainted with blood … it was a little intimidating.

But we’re not looking to change your values, we’re looking for you to be mindful and be inclusive of other people’s values. Being able to understand who we are increases engagement and therefore increases productivity. Improved communication can also help with innovation and any other efficiencies at the workplace, so what we do is not just feel-good, it’s also good for business.

If you don’t talk to each other, then you’re not being the best person you can at work. So, this individual participated [in the diversity training] with some other people. At the beginning of the training there was friction.

Village people_Roberto Sepulveda_Inside pic

Roberto Sepúlveda speaking during a Maywood-Proviso Rotary Club meeting earlier this month. | VFP 

I asked them to have conversations about what they enjoy doing and at the end of the day, a few of these individuals started talking about fishing. They found out they would go fishing around the same day and time for years together — they were only about a half-mile from each other.

And by speaking to each other, they decided that, ‘Hey, I’m going to go fishing and I’ll see you there.’ They came back to the facility and three months later, the facility improved safety and the workers found new friends. Fishing brought them together.

They thought they had different values, because they’d come from different races, but bringing people together makes people learn what they have in common.

Being able to connect individuals and create a workplace that is going to be better for my daughter right now is important. I get paid to do this, but what I’m really doing is creating an inclusive workplace where women will have a seat at the table and will be on corporate boards; where people considered minorities right now in the United States will have a seat at the table.

By doing this work, more people have skin in the game and if more people have skin in the game, we’ll be able to hold each other accountable and not only make our workplaces better, but also our communities better. VFP

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One thought on “Village People: Roberto Sepúlveda, Community Inclusionist”

  1. Some of us are just so stuck in our ways, that we dont even know how we came to be. People dislike each others for the dumbest reasons, thinking we are so different. I witnessed a Thanksgiving argument over whos way was better to cook the turkey. One person said that you had to cut the drumsticks off and make them in stew because thats the way her mom made it. The other disagrees. So they ask the mom, and the mom said that was the way her mom made it. Good thing was that the grandmother was there to set things straight. She said that they had to do it that way in the old days because thier wood burning stove had a tiny oven, and the turkey would not fit. Once they cut the drumsticks and made stew they could have more people over to share the meal. Now ovens are big enough to fit the turkey and there is enough money for more food so things can be as they should, was what the old lady said. We need to get to the root of our traditions and believes to know why we do the things we do. In the end we are all the same with different circumstances, just tring to survive. Much love to all, sorry about the long story.

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